EPL

Ryan Mason encourages little to be read into Harry Kane’s wave to Spurs fans

By Sports Desk May 20, 2023

Ryan Mason played down fears about the future of Tottenham vice-captain Harry Kane after a disappointing 3-1 home loss to Brentford.

Kane’s 30th goal in all competitions put Spurs ahead after eight minutes, but the visitors turned the game around after the break through Bryan Mbeumo’s double and Yoane Wissa’s late goal.

It ensured Tottenham suffered a 14th defeat of a poor campaign in their final home fixture, which ended with the players doing a lap of honour in front of largely empty seats.

Vice-captain Kane waved to the fans who had stayed and uncertainty remains over his future with only one more year left on his deal at Spurs.

But Mason insisted: “He waves at the crowd every season.

“I remember sitting here two years ago and you guys were convinced he was leaving, saying the same thing.

“It’s the last home game of the season so he wants to show his appreciation to the support he’s received and we’ve all received this season.”

Spurs had impressed during the opening 45 and Son Heung-min, Emerson Royal, Arnaut Danjuma and Dejan Kulusevski all went close before half-time.

No second goal occurred for the hosts and Mbeumo’s quickfire brace after the break proved crucial.

Mason added: “This is the Premier League. You have to be ready for the whole game.

“I thought the first half we played a very good match, had a few opportunities to score a couple more, but of course in the second half the intensity dropped and we were punished.”

Back-to-back defeats have damaged Tottenham’s hopes of securing European football next season and there were further chants for chairman Daniel Levy to leave during his latest loss.

Mason admitted it hurt to see so many fans depart before the lap of honour but urged the club to commit to a philosophy this summer in its search for a new head coach and managing director of football.

“Of course (it hurts). It is understandable because of how probably the second two-thirds of the season have gone on and off the pitch but ultimately we know the fans will be there next season,” Spurs’ acting head coach insisted.

“This club will keep moving forward and now is the time where we need to be stronger than ever and believe in what we’re going to do, commit to it and have people that are committed to it.

“And I always say in football things can change very quickly and the energy can change quickly.

“There are many different conversations that need to happen, but ultimately, I have said it quite a bit, we need to commit to something and be consistent with it.

“Then have people, staff and players here who are committed to it too and I think that transfers to everyone else. That is what we need.”

Brentford were able to toast a milestone victory that means they have now defeated each member of the ‘big six’ during their first two seasons in the Premier League.

This fine win also ensured the Bees’ finished a difficult week on a high note after 20-goal forward Ivan Toney was hit with an eight month ban from all football activity on Thursday for repeated betting breaches.

“I think it is unbelievable and remarkable,” Frank said of Brentford’s top-six feat.

“For a newly promoted team over two seasons to beat all of the top-six teams must be quite unique so yes, of course we’re proud of that.

“We’ve already talked about (Ivan). To replace 20 goals in the Premier League is not easy but we actually have good players in the squad that can score goals and every single time Wissa is playing instead of Ivan he scores goals.

“He did that today and Kevin, he will score goals because he is such a threat going in behind.

“Of course the big praise is to Bryan today. He is growing more and more to be a key player for us.”

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    Lionel Messi expects a difficult test against Chile as Argentina look to maintain their unbeaten start at the 2024 Copa America. 

    Argentina play their penultimate Group A match at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on Wednesday against La Roja, having beaten Canada on matchday 1. 

    The Albiceleste impressed in their opener against the Canucks, registering 19 shots on goal, surpassing the combined total of 18 shots taken by Chile and Peru in the other Group A meeting.

    Messi, who broke the Copa America appearance record during that match, expressed the importance of their victory in the opening game but knows his side are in for a competitive encounter with Ricardo Gareca's side. 

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    Meanwhile, Chile will be hopeful of improving their recent record against Argentina, having failed to beat their opponents since the Copa America final in June 2016, though they needed penalties to get the victory on that occasion.

    La Roja kickstarted their Copa America campaign with a goalless draw against Peru at the AT&T Stadium in Texas, managing to register just one shot on target from the 11 they attempted - the joint-fewest the Blanquirroja have faced in the competition since the debut of goalkeeper Pedro Gallese in the competition (2015).

    Gareca's side have failed to score in their last three games in the Copa America, a run of 378 minutes without a goal.

    However, the 66-year-old believes their lack of threat in front of goal is not an issue ahead of their showdown with the Albiceleste. 

    "We were not able to create many plays and execute them. We were under a lot of pressure, and sometimes we were not accurate in our passes," said Gareca, who became the 10th coach to have managed different teams in consecutive editions of the competition.

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    Chile - Victor Davila

    Victor Davila will be hoping to rediscover the goal-scoring touch he experienced before the Copa America ahead of coming up against the World Cup champions. 

    Having scored three goals and provided one assist in his previous three international appearances heading into their opener against Peru, the CSKA Moscow striker showed glimpses of his attacking threat. 

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    Argentina - Lionel Messi 

    Messi has played in 35 out of 36 matches for Argentina in the Copa America since his debut. The only match he missed was a 2-1 group stage victory against Tuesday's opponents in 2016.

    The Inter Miami star registered an assist for Lautaro Martinez's late goal, reaching 50 direct goal involvements in official competitions for club and country on U.S. soil (30 goals and 20 assists).

    However, Messi will be hoping to add to his 108 international goals at the MetLife Stadium. Should he score, it would take his Copa America tally to 14, level with Chile's Eduardo Vargas and Peru's Paolo Guerrero, three away from equalling Norberto Mendez's record (17). 

     

    MATCH PREDICTION: ARGENTINA WIN 

    The Opta supercomputer is heavily backing Argentina to maintain their unbeaten start at the 2024 Copa America. They won 66.5% of the pre-match simulations, while Chile won just 15.1%. 

    Argentina come up against a familiar foe in Chile at the tournament, with this their 30th meeting at the Copa America. La Roja are the third-most frequent opponent for Lionel Scaloni's side, behind only Brazil (34) and Uruguay (32).

    La Albiceleste remain unbeaten against Chile in these encounters (21 wins, eight draws). However, La Roja clinched their two titles by defeating Argentina in penalty shootouts in the 2015 and 2016 finals.

    Since 2011, Argentina have the fewest losses (two) among teams that have played in more than one Copa America edition. La Albiceleste also boasts the most victories in the tournament during this period (18).

    Chile, however, will be looking to upset the odds. La Roja are looking for their first win in games between the two teams since June 2016. During that time, Argentina have outscored the Chilean side 7-4, something that will need to change to increase their chances of progression. 

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Chile - 15.1%

    Argentina - 66.5%

    Draw - 18.4%

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    Netherlands captain Virgil Van Dijk understands the criticism of his side at Euro 2024, despite remaining unbeaten in the tournament following their goalless draw against France last time out. 

    The Dutch came from behind to win their opening Group D game against Poland, before holding out for a point against a wasteful showing from Les Bleus. 

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    Despite this, excluding shootouts, the Oranje have lost just one of their last 18 games at major international tournaments, coming at Euro 2020 against Czechia (W12 D5). 

    Van Dijk and his team-mates were criticised by pundits and newspaper columnists after the game against France, but the Liverpool captain was unmoved by the comments. 

    "Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, that's fine," he said. "It doesn't bother me, it's part of football. If it irritated me, I would have a very unpleasant life.

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